Bharva Karela (Stuffed Bitter Gourd)

I suspect I’m in a small minority when I say I love stuffed karela. I’m not a fan of karela in general, but stuffed…mmm! Here’s how I like to cook it.

Prep time: 3 hours plus 30 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 30 minutes

Don’t get confused. There are three steps to this recipe. Prep the karela (3 hours). Boil the potatoes (40 minutes). Cook the stuffing (15 minutes). Cook the stuffed karela (15 minutes). You can save time by boiling the potatoes while the karela is prepping.

You need: Two karelas; 1/2 a red onion; lots of salt; 1/2 tsp each turmeric (haldi), cayenne (lal mirch), ground coriander (dhania powder), garam masala; amchur; some white cotton string

How to:

Karela: Cut of the tip and end of the karela. Using a knife, scrape off the skin. Cut a slit from tip to end on one side, but do not cut all the way through. Using your finger, scoop out the seeds and flesh. Wash the karelas. Rub well with lots of salt inside and out and set aside for three hours. After three hours, rinse well and stuff.

Potatoes: Two hours after salting the karelas, put the potatoes on to boil. Let them cool. Peel and mash coarsely.

Stuffing: Cut the onion finely. Heat two tbsp oil. Add the onion. Cook until the onion becomes soft, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and stir. Cook for three or four minutes.

Stuffed karela: Pat dry the karelas. Stuff them with the stuffing mixture. Tie them shut with thread. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan (one which has a lid). Put the karelas in the oil and cover. Cook for ten minutes or until cooked, turning once or twice so it cooks evenly.

Let it cool, untie the thread, and enjoy. This tastes wonderful with rice and dal.

Tips: Use tongs to turn the karela over. Also, you might need to add a little water to the pan so the karela doesn’t burn. Do not add salt to the stuffing.